As June marks the start of summer – it also means greeting the Great British weather – where temperatures soar one day, and downpours of rain douse us the next.
It’s this hot and humid weather which can lead to unwanted company for our poor pets in the form of fleas, as these conditions create a ‘perfect breeding ground for fleas’ according to Zoe Costigan, in-house vet for ITCHpet.com.
Furthermore, the Covid-19 climate has helped fleas to thrive – with research revealing one in ten owners have found treating their pets for parasites more difficult during the outbreak – with 15% citing they have struggled to get to pet shops and vets during the isolation period.
Although they might be miniscule, fleas have a mighty impact on their unlucky host and can be a perennial pain in the backside – not to mention elsewhere on the body.
We know flea infestations can cause severe discomfort and irritation for our pets, which is a cause for concern amongst owners. But another anxiety which many might ask themselves – can fleas live on humans?
Zoe said: “It is a common misconception that fleas can only target animals. Whereas the harsh truth is that fleas can bite and feed on humans too. There are hundreds of different species of fleas – and the human fleas known as ‘Pulex irritans’, are those which prefer to feed on humans and pigs. Some parasites might prefer cats or dogs to feed on, but at the end of the day, if a flea is hungry, they will find a warm-blooded host – including humans.
“Fleas are incredibly unpleasant for animals and humans alike. Which is why it’s so important to protect your pet and your home form parasites – as this will also help to protect your family too.”
With flea season in full swing, ITCHpet.com has created this simple advice guide to help you and your pet when it comes to fighting fleas!
Advice for pet owners
How to spot a flea on your body
- Flea bites can be detected as small raised spots on the skin, which usually have a red or pink colour and generally appear in clusters of three or four. So, if you begin feeling itchy and suspect it might be a flea bite – look out for these visible warning signs.
- It’s not just flea bites which are a concern, fleas can transmit disease when they bit. In the latest studies, 11% of UK fleas tested positive for a dangerous bacteria called Bartonella which can cause ‘Cat scratch disease’. This can be very serious and possibly fatal in immunocompromised individuals.
- Fleas most commonly bit humans around the legs and ankles – so covering up your skin with long trousers, sock and long-sleeved tops will help prevent fleas from jumping on your and feeding on you. This is because they bite through your skin – not your clothing.
- If you have found (and felt) flea bites, then try not to scratch them, as this can cause further skin irritation and could lead to infections.
Protect your home
- With 95% of flea problems in the environment rather than on the pet, it is important to keep your home clean as well as regularly treating your pets or fleas.
- Fleas can easily infest a house – living in curtains, carpets, upholstered furniture and even bedding (yours and your pets), which is why it’s so important to flea-proof your home. You can do this by getting out the hoover and thoroughly going over carpets and rugs. You can even vacuum cushions on the sofa too. Just be sure to empty out the vacuum bag once you have finished to remove the culprits.
- It is also advisable to was both your bedding and your pets’ bedding on a hot wash (at least 60’C) to help kill any fleas or eggs laid.
Advice for your pets
Use preventative flea treatment
- Preventative care is the best care. ITCH flea treatment kills fleas, lice and even flea eggs and larvae – working to break the flea cycle and prevent any infestation on your pet and in your home.
How to spot a flea outbreak on your pet
- It’s advisable to regularly check your pet for fleas. Fleas are normally a reddy-brown colour and about 2mm long. Fleas on dogs tend to target their lower back, chest, belly and inside the hind legs, whereas in cats, fleas commonly live around the head, tail base and neck. Be sure to also check their back and belly too.
What to do if you expect and infestation
- If you think your poor pet might have fleas, then look out for black specks on their skin where you part the fur. Next step is to wipe these away with some damp cotton wool and then look at the cotton wool – if it is red tinged, this is flea dirt or faeces.
Keep them clean
- Make sure to groom your pet regularly with a flea comb, as this will help to remove fleas and their eggs. It also gives you and your pet quality bonding time together.
To protect your pet, your home and your family from fleas and other parasites, head to ITCHpet.com for personalised, effective and convenient treatment delivered direct to your door.